Wednesday, August 06, 2008


Thanks for all the comments on yesterday's post, as I really do appreciate readers taking the time to share their insights. I wanted to touch on Larry's comments, which follow:

"*Four marathons in a little over a year (Dec 06-Jan 08)....Yeah, one was a sub-max effort, but I don't think Lydiard had the Tucson Marathon course in mind for his 42.2k time trials!

*Eight races from September to May at 10k or longer, including three marathons....

Scheduled recovery weeks really aren't necessary, as Mike as shown repeatedly in the past that he gets faster and stronger as the mileage goes up. With bad weather, travel, young kids, etc. the recovery weeks have a way of scheduling themselves.

However, Mike probably needs to recognize that being able to run triple digit mileage week after week, month after month, year after year, at a good pace doesn't make you invincible to the point where you can send in race entries at will, particularly if your chosen events are at 10k and beyond. Mike cashed in a lot of chips during that last twenty months of racing it may take more time than expected to replenish the reserves and restore some equilibrium to Mike's system.

The disappointing result of the evaluation run only means that Mike might have to delay the start of more intense phase of his training, or at least proceed more carefully than he otherwise would. But cutting back on the miles is the last thing that he needs."

Larry is partially arguing against a scheduled recovery week, and against cutting miles in general at this point in my training. While I see the value in scheduled recovery weeks for many athletes, I'm still generally not a fan of them for my own training. Much of this comes from my experience with recovery weeks during cycling and triathlon training. I often found that by relegating recovery to once every four weeks or so, I invariably ended up pushing too hard during the other three weeks, ignoring signs that I needed to occasionally let up more than my schedule showed. I figured I would "catch up" with my recovery when that week finally came around, but that just didn't seem to happen. Less training just meant more time for yardwork, or more excuses to stay up later since I didn't have as much of a workload the following day.

Kids and commitments now dictate some recovery days, how I feel while I'm walking down the driveway dictate others, and a regular diet of hard/easy/easy or moderate/easy as directed by Mystery Coach take care of the rest. If he thinks I'm over-cooked I'll find myself with several days of easy runs, and I trust him enough to know it's the right decision.

I think this model actually falls pretty close to what Joseph mentioned in his comment, which reads in part: "Mike might be overreached somewhat (and I'm not even sure I'd say that, but overtrained, I don't really think so. This would require consistent HRs 10> above avg. RHR, consistant deadness in one's legs, an inability to reach max HR, modiness, etc.

W/ that said, Mike I said it once and I say it again, you seriously might want to consider the occassional cutback week. I don't remember Lydiard's position on this, but I know Vigil's guys, Asics Aggies, I believe even the dudes over at HB project take the cutback...

And look, even if they don't, you and I aren't 25 anymore. Our bodies can't rebound as quickly and during the rest week (well, 80-85% volume) you give your body a chance to rest up and adapt to the demands hard training puts on it."

To my thinking, this time I've been consistently somewhere between 80 and 90% of what I've done in previous builds. It's not by design, but rather necessity. It's simply all that I'm able to bounce back from right now. When I originally emailed some suggestions on miles and paces to Mystery Coach before this build began, it looked much more aggressive than it's turned out to be. I think we're both finding out that my body is changing a bit with age, and as such there are more recovery runs during this build and less specific work early on.

Whether or not these changes are due to all the racing I've done since December of 2006 (as Larry mentions above), I can't knowingly say. I will say that racing is fun, but that it's more fun when I'm able to truly give 100%. I ran too many races while either recovering from surgery, recovering from marathons (at the same time in one case), or while in the throes of peak-volume training en route to the next marathon. Over-racing must exact some toll, and in light of this I've cut down dramatically for the fall as the New York City marathon approaches.

Again, it's always fun to discuss this, and I appreciate the comments.

12 miles, 1h24m, 7:03 pace, w/2 miles of 100 accelerate/sprint, 300 jog
Sleep: 6h, 5/10 (woken 4 times)
Legs: 6/10 a bit sore from lifting and the double
Weather: 78 degrees, 66 dew point

8/5/08 pm., 5 miles easy around 7:50 pace on the treadmill
30 minutes of general weights


Anonymous said...

Hey man, and know one thing Larry and I most definitely agree on is that we're cheering for you. Absolutely. Unequivocably.

Experiment of one...cliche, but so true.

Ewen said...

I tend to think the 'poor' evaluation run was due to a combination of the weather (dew point) and just not being recovered as well for that session - for whatever reason, sleep, or a number of days of poor sleep, nutrition etc.

It was just a bad day.

You're right about recovery being difficult, and at the same time, more important than ever, as we age. I'm with you on not programming a recovery week, but trying to be aware of when some recovery day/days of easy running are needed and take them there and then.

running faster with the ALIEN LIZARD said...

Half the battle is to believe that age is not a problem! with the right training your best days are yet to come. i think it takes about nine years from when you start running to peak out.
as you get older i find its important to make my easy days real easy and i can't handle more than 2 very hard sessions per week!
Next year i plan to run London again and think I've still got a chance of getting close to my p.b. set back in 2003.
Exspect to running your best marathons when you reach 40 mike, right now your still developing as a runner! enjoy the road ahead, there may be a few bad days but many great days to come am sure!

Thomas said...

I don't think you are overracing - that's more a problem for people who race every other week or more often, but 8 races from September to May is hardly a huge number. Yeah, it did contain 3 marathons, and I thought the Tucson one was a mistake as soon as you reported on it, but I would think you're over that by now.

You might be putting too much thought into that last evaluation run. As someone else pointed out, you only have 4 data points, and that's not enough to spot a trend.

Mike said...

Thanks Joseph, know that the feeling is mutual.

Point taken Ewen. It seems those factors outside of running probably govern recovery more than the running itself these days.

Alien, attitude certainly does count for so much. Reading Fitzgerald's "Brain Training for Runners" really reinforces it. I think we both know there's a difference between ignoring your age and training like a 25-year-old and embracing it and training appropriately for how our bodies respond differently further down the road.

Thomas, I'm ready to put two lackluster evaluations behind me, as you suggest. Since I've gotten home and back into my routine it seems like I'm getting back into a good groove in my training. As far as racing too much goes, it's probably more the timing of some of those races rather than frequency.

...And yes, in retrospect Tucson was the kind of training mistake that often occurs when the heart overrules the head.

Grellan said...

Hi Mike. I have read the last few post and all the worthwhile comments in relation to the possible causes of your "poor" evaluation run. Great source of information.

As you say that the evaluation run felt easier may there have been an issue with your HR monitor. I have found my Garmin 305 to throw me a higher than expected HR once in a while.